The Carolina Music Museum
I am happy to be able to support the new Carolina Music Museum, and to this end I have been building a second replica of the beautiful 1704 Edward Blunt spinet, the orginal of which is in my care.
It has just been collected by G&R Removals, and is now on its way to its new home in Greenville, South Carolina. There it will be used to make music, and to encourage young players and (I hope) builders.
The story of the construction of the first replica is detailed on the Spinet Page of this website. It's always good to learn, and there is no finer way of learning than to build an instrument. I like to think that this second replica is an improvement on the first in some small ways; I am certainly happy with the sound, which stands comparison with the original (just visible at the extreme left of the first picture).
The original spinet is perhaps notorious as the origin of the false statements, repeated by the highest authorities for many years, that Thomas Hitchcock was making spinets as early as 1664, and indeed led to the invention of 'Thomas Hitchcock the Elder' as a spinet maker. The re-emergence of this spinet in 2014 enabled the history to be corrected. The tale is recorded in the PDF below.
We wish this spinet a safe journey, and a happy life in South Carolina.
Recent years have seen some sad changes in the musical collections in the UK. Richard and Katrina Burnett decided that the time had come for them to 'downsize', and consequently Finchcocks closed, and much of the collection has been sold. Barbara Lore Colt died, some of the Colt Collection has been sold, and its future seems uncertain. Musical instruments no longer have a place in the plans of the V&A, and although some of the instruments have gone to the Horniman Museum, many are in indefinite storage. Additionally, the private collection of Christopher Hogwood has been dispersed following his death. All this is against a background of declining musical education in state schools, which makes it more difficult for most young people to become actively involved.
So it is very refreshing to announce a splendid new Initiative in the United States, the founding of the Carolina Music Museum in Greenville, SC, due to open in the Spring of 2018.
This owes much to the efforts and enthusiasm of our Friends Tom and Debra Strange; Tom is seen in the above picture on a recent visit to the UK, inspecting (with David Hunt) the action of a rare 1774 square piano by Weber.
In the picture below, he is at the Colt Collection, playing the Heilmann grand (now at the Geelvinck Museum, Zutphen).
Tom Strange has had a life-long interest in early keyboards beginning in the 1970s and including building and playing harpsichords and restoring early pianos. That interest built enormously with the advent of the internet and the ability to connect with people all over the world. The first antique instrument entered his collection over twenty years ago, and was followed by others over the years.
Ultimately the collection grew into something that seemed appropriate to share with the public. With continuing visits to his house by students and professionals from all over the world, it suggested that a more permanent home for the collection might make sense. A splendid use of the collection for the 2017 HKSNA conference last May made it clear that having it in a dedicated, climate controlled space would be a requirement for the instrumentsto be used with an eye toward conservation and limited disruption.
After a three year search and several dead ends, the museum now hase a lease on an ideal building in Greenville SC, set on the campus of Heritage Green, and home to the Upcountry History Museum, Greenville County Museum of Art, The Children’s Museum, and others, with state of the art climate control, security, and ADA compliant facilities. There will be an office, performance and display space in the roughly 8000 square foot facility set on a campus-like green space, with ready access to parking and within easy walking distance of all the museums as well as downtown Greenville.
The first show will be titled ‘Facing South: Keyboard Instruments in the Early Carolinas’ with a projected opening date of late March, 2018. The show will highlight twenty-seven selected instruments that have been associated with music in the Carolinas from 1700 to 1860, either by repute or using instruments that have been here since they were new. However the museum must be more than early keyboards, and while the opening show is being mounted and begins running, work continues in the background on additional projects to bring other instruments and important southern ethnomusicology interests to the Carolina Music Museum.
The core of the museum will always be the early keyboard collection, with a mission to help emerging musicians and seasoned professionals understand the critical ability of the historic keyboard to bring forward the actual intent of the composers who knew them and composed from them.